After a franchise-worst 1-15 season in 2020, the expectations surrounding the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021 are far from unreasonable. The team isn’t widely expected to compete for a playoff spot; rather, the hope is that it will be much more competitive and take positive strides in areas it struggled in last year.
But the AFC South is one of the weaker divisions in the NFL. Three of the four teams could have new starting quarterbacks in 2021, while the defending champion Tennessee Titans are the clear favorite. The Indianapolis Colts have some uncertainty after replacing the retiring Phillip Rivers with Carson Wentz, and the Texans have perhaps the worst roster in football and a starting quarterback with baggage (to say the least) who wants out.
That means that it wouldn’t necessarily take a major step forward for the Jaguars to be competitive in the division. However, USA TODAY’s Nate Davis (subscription required) doesn’t see it. He thinks 2021 will be another difficult season for the Jags, predicting a 4-13 finish that’s good for third in the division. Here’s his rundown.
Last year’s 1-15 record belies the talent on this roster. Integrating
rookie QB Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 pick of the 2021 draft, and
coach Urban Meyer as he attempts to calibrate an approach that netted three titles in the college ranks likely amounts to a bumpy – if far more promising – 2021 season. At least this group should be fun to watch again.
It’s clear that Davis expects the team to be much better and more competitive, but he doesn’t think that will translate to ticks in the win column. He’s far more optimistic about the Titans, who he has winning the division at 12-5, and the Colts, who he has missing a playoff spot at 9-8.
Davis does expect the Texans to be worse than Jacksonville (and the worst team in football, in fact) predicting a 1-16 finish without Watson in the lineup.
Obviously, Jags fans hope the team will be a lot better, maybe even good enough to be in the playoff race in the second half of the season. Four wins would be disappointing, for sure, but if the team is more competitive and Lawrence progresses throughout the season, it wouldn’t be the worst outcome.